Five Tips for Creating Individualized Transition and Employment Goals

Young adult reading braille

Editor’s note: Do you work with transition-age youth who are blind or low vision? Watch The National Transition Conversation: 2023 APH CareerConnect Transition & Employment Resource Round Up. Read on to learn about supporting adults and students as they transition to higher education or employment. The following content has been edited as of April 2023.

When planning for students transitioning from high school or college to higher education or work, I start thinking about assessment and creating an inventory of an individual’s interests, strengths, weaknesses, skills, and values. In many cases, the same type of assessment is useful for adults. The ultimate goal for youths and adults is to achieve a level of independence that is commensurate with the individuals’ abilities. (If you ask me, the real word should be “interdependence” since we are all interdependent on others. Our whole social system and economy are based on interdependence, but that is a topic for another blog.)

Education and Rehabilitation Programs

The similarities are greater than the differences in education and rehabilitation programming. Career planning when a student is in school needs to be related to their Individualized Education Program (IEP)—for adults in rehabilitation programs, career planning is tied to the Individual Plan for Employment (IPE)—but establishing a career requires individuals to understand what they have to offer and how their assets match career opportunities (career exploration), how they can convince an employer or customer to take what is offered (job-seeking skills), and how they can sustain employment over time (job maintenance and career advancement).

Start with the Big Picture and Set Objectives

When addressing the various goals needed for a successful transition, I like to have my clients start with the big picture and then define the detailed steps they will need to take to accomplish their goals. For example, a youth’s primary goal could be employment with self-awareness as the subcategory.

As professionals, we need to empower and involve our students and clients in planning for their futures. Therefore, individuals need to be counseled to create their own lists of goals and objectives. When establishing benchmarks for a transition goal, objectives for each accomplishment should be specific, and list expected completion dates. Objectives provide a way to map out the path toward reaching the goal. For example, the objective, “I will have my disability statement developed by one week from today,” uses the phrase “I will” to encourage the student to take responsibility for the objective. It is also important for clients to put objectives in writing and share them with professionals or family members, as this activity provides accountability.

Students and clients should also be encouraged to conduct as much research as possible during career exploration and transition planning. 

Five Strategies for Successful Career Planning

Whether you are working with individuals who are considering what they would like to study after high school, individuals who have work experience, individuals exploring careers for the first time (habilitation), or those who are interested in re-careering (rehabilitation), the following strategies can help you as you work with students and consumers in setting transition goals:

1. Work through activities related to career exploration and preparation.

These activities include occupational interviews (even virtually with APH Career Conversations), exploring career clusters, job shadowing, and utilizing the APH Jobseeker’s Toolkit. The APH ConnectCenter includes a wealth of information related to careers or jobs. The APH ConnectCenter Transition Hub is another fantastic source of information geared specifically toward blind and low-vision transition-aged youths.

2. Help guide individuals through the career planning process by asking them questions to help them find their path.

However, don’t set goals for them! Individuals need to buy into goals and the steps required to meet them. Make sure they understand that their path can change and be updated.

3. Start with large goals followed by goal subcategories, then create more detailed, focused objectives or steps toward reaching these goals.

Include dates of completion to help create accountability. Take the example of employment as the large goal with behavior change as the goal subcategory. An objective for this subcategory could be, “I will introduce myself and attempt to initiate a conversation with one new person (not known prior) each day for the next 30 days.” Using the example of self-advocacy as a goal subcategory, an objective could be, “I will meet with my physical education teachers to discuss how I can be included more in my physical education class by one week from today.”

4. Help students and clients create career portfolios that include the research and action plan.

Your student or client can record and maintain their action plan, including achieved goals!

5. Teach individuals how to present or explain their career plans to their families and other professionals.

To benefit from such presentations, encourage them to be open to feedback on their plans.

Join the National Transition Conversation

Want to learn more about transition programming? Mark your calendar for this year’s National Transition Conversation on Tuesday, May 9, 2023, from 2:00 PM until 4:00 PM EST. This annual conversation focuses on transition programs, agencies, and transition-aged youths. This year the theme is cleverly entitled, Transition & Employment Resource Round-Up. The meeting is packed with information you won’t want to miss.

At the National Transition Conversation, the APH ConnectCenter will unveil the latest updates of the Transition Hub project, along with new features such as the Job Seeker’s Toolkit. You’ll learn how the latest content and programming offered through APH ConnectCenter can complement your seasonal and summer residential Pre-ETS program experience. During the last half of the National Transition Conversation, there will be a forum for practitioners, rehabilitation personnel, transition specialists, and program administrators to share new program offerings and virtually network nationwide.

Register for the National Transition Conversation. ACVREP credits are available. See you there!